Aloha: White Space Licenses Could Bring $8 Billion

Licensing the so-called DTV white spaces could mean $5 billion to $8 billion in revenues for the federal government, Aloha Partners told the FCC.

That exceeds a 2007 estimate by The Brattle Group, which predicted a white space auction take of $3.7 billion to $6 billion.

Aloha Partners once was the top owner of licenses in the 700 MHz spectrum before selling them to AT&T Mobility for $2.5 billion. The FCC approved that deal in February.

In presentations to FCC staff in June, Charles Townsend of Aloha and his lawyer also argued against adjacent channel protections that broadcasters have advocated. Broadcasters have said that allowing even licensed activities in adjacent channels could cause interference to DTV signals. Aloha said that kind of protection would reduce available white space by two-thirds, from 75 MHz to 25 MHz, in the top 100 markets.

But in rural areas, Aloha said, 120 MHz is available. About half the potential value of all white space ($2.8 billion to $3.8 billion) is in licenses for those areas, Aloha said.

Providence, R.I.-based Aloha currently owns no spectrum licenses, but is interested in developing mobile TV in urban areas and broadband service in the country. It made six visits to the FCC in May and June to discuss the issue.

Broadcasters have maintained that licensing is needed to protect other users from interference from potential devices using the spectrum. Google, Microsoft and others have argued that other methods, such as spectrum sensing, geolocation databases and RF beacons, can provide enough protection to allow for mobile, unlicensed white space devices.

CTIA-The Wireless Association also made a pitch Thursday for a regime of licensed white space users, saying only such an arrangement would enable rapid buildout of wireless broadband. “Licensed providers continue to invest billions of dollars into their mobile broadband networks,” the group told the FCC. “In contrast, despite the fact that hundreds of megahertz of spectrum have been set aside for unlicensed use for years, no one has stepped forward with the capital necessary to create a nationwide unlicensed broadband network.”